This exhibition of the work of the New York–based artist Huma Bhabha (American, born 1962 in Karachi, Pakistan) spans both of The Contemporary Austin’s sites, with an indoor exhibition on the second floor of the downtown Jones Center on Congress Avenue and a bronze work, God of Some Things, 2011, at the fourteen-acre Laguna Gloria sculpture park.
Other Forms of Life is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Texas and serves as a focused, five-year survey of Bhabha’s recent work, showcasing key moments in her varied artistic practice, including examples in sculpture, photography and collage, painting, and printmaking. Sculpture plays a primary role in Bhabha’s practice, referencing an encyclopedic range of sources spanning Greek and Indian civilizations (such as Greek kouroi or Gandharan Buddhist iconography) to magical realism, science fiction, and horror tropes (apropos of Jorge Luis Borges, Arundhati Roy, and classic 1970s and 1980s sci-fi and horror films).
Her vertical works on paper—often backed by a landscape photograph taken by the artist, then covered in broad gestural brushstrokes that outline a mask or face—include seemingly banal collage elements such as cutouts of canines and felines from environmental calendars or marijuana buds from High Times magazine, pointing to the elements of wild nature that still infiltrate and influence our lives. Blending past and future into a mysterious present, Bhabha’s work presents a hybrid vision of civilization, simultaneously representational and abstract, surreal and familiar, humorous and frightening. Through her unique combination of representation and abstraction, the artist’s two- and three-dimensional objects propose new ways of looking at the figure, and form, in contemporary art.